Faces of the Frontlines: Housekeeper takes new responsibilities in stride
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS —Since March, housekeeper Graciela Gonzalez Payan has embraced new procedures as part of her job at Casey’s Pond Senior Living, which has been battling COVID-19.
“Graciela has had added responsibilities placed on her cleaning the assisted living center and memory care,” said Buck Holmes, director of plant operations at Casey’s Pond. “Because of isolation and cutting back on people entering and exiting these areas, she is the only housekeeper cleaning rooms in these neighborhoods.”
Payan works all day in full personal protective equipment, constantly disinfecting the rooms while making sure she remains healthy.
“Knowing she is exposed to a potentially deadly virus is a heavy load by itself,” Holmes said.
It has meant changes at work where Payan now takes her breaks and lunches alone, and she has started driving from Craig to Steamboat Springs by herself instead of commuting with other housekeepers. But her love for her job and the residents at the senior living center in Steamboat remains strong.
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“I enjoy getting to know them and having conversations with them,” she said. “The people I work with are also important parts of my day.”
Despite the spread of COVID-19 and the significant impact the disease has had at Casey’s Pond, Payan said she still enjoys coming to work every day.
“I knew I wanted to do something, but when I chose housekeeping at Casey’s Pond, I didn’t know it would turn out to be such a big, important change,” Payan said. “I have realized in this process that I have a greater passion and love for this job than I knew. Even though I don’t have direct contact, I am supporting the residents that I help.”
Payan was born and raised in Mexico and worked as a preschool teacher and as a secretary in the city hall there before moving to the U.S.
“I wanted to have a new adventure and experience,” Payan said. “I was working at another job locally when a friend that works at Casey’s Pond mentioned her job, and I became interested. She asked me to come to an interview, and I did. At that point, I wasn’t sure if I would like the job, but little by little, it turned into something more significant than I expected.”
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